Off-The-Charts Pollen Spreads Allergy Misery
Allergy season has come early and hit with a wheezing vengeance in parts of the South this year, thanks largely to an unusually warm winter. Abundant pollen is causing watery eyes, sniffles and sneezing.
Doctors say the spring misery stretches from Mississippi to Ohio and from Georgia to Texas, where drought conditions have exacerbated the problem. Forecasters and allergists blame the unseasonably warm weather, and few cold snaps, for causing plants to bloom weeks early and release the allergy-causing particles.
In some areas, allergists say pollen counts this week are as high as they've ever recorded. A clinic at Vanderbilt University in Nashville recorded 11,000 grains of pollen per cubic meter Tuesday, the worst in the 12 years they've tracked the number. The Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic has measured pollen since the 1980s and says this week's counts have beaten a high mark recorded there in April 1999. Their count for Tuesday was almost 9,400. Fifteen-hundred is considered very high.
The medical director of the Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program says he's been seeing more patients - even while feeling puny himself.
"I'm kind of sniffly today," Dr. David Hagaman said Tuesday.